Select Arthropods, Butterflies, Insects, Spiders and other Invertebrates
Arizona's Sycamore Canyons

Water in the arid and semiarid regions of Arizona is often concentrated along narrow canyons draining from the high mountains. With a great variety of trees, shrubs, perennial herbs and annuals these riparian corridors support a great diversity of insect life. The shady environment also provides respite to all sorts of creatures during the hottest periods. This is a new guide and new species will be added as photos become available and descriptive text pages are written. If an arthropod or other invertebrate animal is already covered in detail in another guide on Arizona Naturalists an icon will so indicate. The user should use the 'back button' on the browser to return to this particular guide page.

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Red-headed Centipede

Giant Red-headed Centipede

One pair of legs per segment. Large and fast moving. Variety of color patterns. More ...

Widow Skimmer

Widow Skimmer

Males with bluish-white patches at mid-wing and dark brown on basal third of all four wings. More ...

Painted Damsel

Painted Damsel

Dainty version of dragonfly moves slowly about close to slow waters. Males vividly marked. More ...

Canyon Rubyspot

Canyon Rubyspot

Patch or ruby red is at the bases of the four wings. (Yes dragonflies and damsels have two pairs of wings.) More ...

Widow Skimmer

California Dancer

Male is sky blue with black markings. Frequents slow riparian streams. More ...

Great Spreadwing

Great Spreadwing

But this damselfly, an exception, holds its wings horizontal, spread parallel to surface. Great Spreadwing has a yellow stripe on sides of thorax. More ...

Snakefly

Snakefly

Curious insect with an elongated prothorax (neck) and finely veined, membranous wings. More ...

Giant Ant-Lion, Vella

Giant Ant-Lion

Large, delicate-winged, insects come readily to electric light. Wings have fine network of veins. Antennae elbowed. More ...

Agave Bug

Wingless Mantis

Slender praying mantis, light brown in color, and without wings as an adult female. More ...

Melanoplus aridus

Arid Lands Grasshopper

Well concealed grasshopper feeds often within shrubs. Yellow and gray with black markings. Flies well, More ...

Three-banded Grasshopper

Three-banded Grasshopper

Three dark bands on each lateral surface distinguish this pale gray hopper. More ...

Oak Leaf Grasshopper

Oak Leaf Grasshopper

Looks so much like a dead oak leaf that predators ignore this insect. More ...

common short winged katydid

Short-winged Katydid

Bright green with white lines/marks. Long hair-like antennae and strong jumping legs. More ...

Field Cricket

Field Cricket

Nocturnal insect famous for males' chirping. A number of species possible in our riparian woodlands. More ...

Ground Cricket

Ground Cricket

Small, secretive crickets that inhabit cavities near the soil surface. More ...

Yellow-headed Hopper

Yellow-headed Hopper

No common name for this small blue hopper with a distinct yellow head. Only about 2½mm long. Jumps and flies. More ...

Agave Bug

Agave Plant Bug

Found exclusively on agave plants where common. Causes oozing spots on leaves and stems. More ...

Tithonia Plant Bug

Sunflower Plant Bug

There are dozens of green plant bug species. This one was on AZ sunflower. More ...

Agave Bug

Catorhintha

Brown bug about 11mm, with a marginal band of cream-white. Can be found on variety of plants. More ...

Thasus neocalifornicus

Giant Mequite Bug

Armed with multiple defenses: toxic sprays, intimidating size, and sharp spines. More ...

Giant Agave Bug

Giant Agave Bug

Very large, mostly black bug, with orange tips of legs and antennae. Hind legs with leaf-like expansions. More ...

Agave Bug

Cactus Bugs

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert The young (nymphs) cluster together and are red and green. Feed on prickly pears and other cacti. More ...

Formica ant

Wood Ant

Ubiquitous ants in woodlands and shrublands foraging on trees and foliage. Sprays formic acid in defense. More ...

Honey Bee

Honey Bee

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Golden brown bee with black abdominal bands. Rather large and slow compared to most bees. Overly common. More ...

Myzinum Wasp

Myzinum Wasp

Males are long and slender with bold yellow and black bands. False stinger at abdomen tip. More ...

Western Yellow-jacket

Western Yellowjacket

Sharply marked yellow and black hornet that frequents picnics and other food supplies. Yellow ring around eye. Distinct abdomen marks. More ...

Formica ant

Golden Paper Wasp

Brick red thorax and gold yellow abdomen. Unless you disturb their nest these likely won't sting. More ...

Comanche Paper Wasp

Comanche Paper Wasp

Yellow abdomen attached by very narrow 'waste'. Thorax and wings coffee-brown. Comes to flowers and builds paper nests. More ...

wasp induced gall

Gall Wasp

The wasp which caused this plant growth on an oak acorn cup is smaller than a pinhead. More ...

Bumblebee Mimic is a Bee Killer

Bumblebee Mimic

This audacious fly looks like a bee and then hunts bees to eat. Bold, fuzzy black, yellow and orange. More ...

Bombyliidae Flower Fly

Flower Fly

Many, many kinds of flies visit flowers for nectar and many are important pollinators. More ...

Thick-headed Fly

Thick-headed Fly

Looks like a scary wasp but it's harmless. Instead it's a curious fly in disguise. More ...

Black Fly

Black Fly

Small black flies that usually live near flowing water. Occasionally bite. More ...

Dance Fly

Dance Fly

Dance flies perform their footwork on the muddy edges of streams and ponds. Quite small as adults, the worm-like larvae live in clumps of dying algae. More ...

Deer Fly

Deer Fly

Robust, fast flying flies the most common about twice the size of a house fly. Tend to bite hikers about the ankles. More ...

Cecidomyiidae:Walshomyia

Juniper Bud Gall

The small orange larva at the center belongs to a gall midge, a minute fly. The galls are look like juniper berries. More ...

Marine Blue

Splendid Royal Moth

Fantastic shades and patterns of charcoal, brick red and white. Very large night flyer in borderland canyons. More ...

Western Polyphemus

Polyphemus Moth

Big eyespots with blue eye shadow on the hind wings. Another smaller pair in forewings. Flies at night. Huge size. More ...

Calleta Silk Moth

Calleta Silk Moth

This dark-colored silk moth is smaller than the other giants. A whitish band bisects the wings. More ...

Oslar's Imperial Moth

Imperial Moth

Another huge moth; yellow mottled with brown. Rarely seen except at lights during the summer monsoons. More ...

Western Polyphemus

Baccharis Moth

During the day this night flyer sits perfectly still like a piece of sycamore bark. More ...

Southwestern Tent Caterpillar Moth

SW Tent Caterpillar

Moth is nocturnal and rarely seen. Larvae make conspicuous tents in willows and other trees. More ...

Diathraustia Snout Moth

Diathrausta Moth

There are thousands of species of small moths - this one is boldly marked. See them at electric lights. More ...

Silver-spotted Skipper photo by Bruce Walsh

Silver-spotted Skipper

Large as far as skippers go. White-silver patch on hindwing. Lands with wings partly closed. More ...

Two-tailed Swallowtail

Two-tailed Swallowtail

Very large yellow butterflies with black and blue markings. Often seen patrolling up and down sycamore-lined canyons. More ...

Red-bordered Satyr

Red-bordered Satyr

Flies among trees near to the ground and not to flowers. Perches with wings folded above. Red and lavender markings along edge of hind wing. More ...

Nabokov's Satyr

Nabokov's Satyr

Flies close to ground between trees. Brown often conceals against dead leaves and bare soil. Pearly splotch on hindwing margin. More ...

Mourning Cloak

Mourning Cloak

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Cream-colored border around a deep purple-brown center. Likely to be seen flying on warm days through winter and early spring near willow trees, More ...

Mylitta Crescent

Mylitta Crescent

Small, bright orange butterfly marked with intricate checker pattern. Avid flower visitor. More ...

Buckeye

Buckeye

Ground color is rich brown. Blue-centered spots along wing margins. Often lands upon damp soil in sunshine. More ...

Red Admiral

Red Admiral

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Dark brown butterfly with red-orange submarginal bands. Mostly avoids flowers preferring sap, carrion or dung. More ...

Hackberry Emperor

Hackberry Emperor

Golden brown butterfly with black and white spots. Eye-spots below with blue centers. More ...

Arizona Red Spotted Purple

Arizona Red Spotted Purple

Iridescent blue-purple on black with row of lighter spots along outer margins. No tails. Flies along streams near willows. More ...

Gulf Fritillary

Gulf Fritillary

Bright, showy orange butterfly with black vein marks. Also shows up in towns near passion flowers are cultivated. More ...

Arizona Sister photo by Bruce Walsh

Arizona Sister

Very dark background accented by bold white diagonal arising from orange spot in forewing. Visits sap and dung but not flowers. More ...

Spring Azure

Spring Azure

Bright blue, nickel-sized butterfly. Beneath is silvery gray marked with slightly grayer marks. More ...

Marine Blue

Marine Blue

Lavender-blue and quite small. Pair of small high spots near posterior margin. Gathers abundantly at damp soil. More ...

Caterpillar Hunter

Ground Beetle

Large, fast moving, glossy black beetle. Can pinch if mishandled or release a smelly liquid. Eats insects fallen under outdoor lighting. More ...

Bombardier Beetle

Bombardier Beetle

Fast moving black and fire orange. Found beneath rocks near flowing water. More ...

Tiger Beetle

Long running legs, big alert eyes, fast folding wings, and a pair of deadly mandibles. Sandy areas near water. More ...

Eleodes Beetle

Pinacate Beetle

Large, slow moving and well armoured. Lifts tip of abdomen in air if disturbed and release bad odor. More ...

Eleodes

Pinacate #2

There are several similar-looking Eleodes beetles but all are slow-moving and black. More ...

reticulated darkling beetle

Darkling Beetle

Tough little tanks that amble along ground. About 10 mm long. More ...

Click Beetle

Ox Beetle

Large, lumbering beetles, brown to nearly black. A couple of species, some males with horns. More ...

Agave Bug

Morning Glory Tortoise

Orange-red beetle spotted with black and with a turtle-like shell. Feeds on morning glory leaves. More ...

Flower Cerambyidae

Flower Longhorn

Many kinds of colorful cerambycids. Long antennae, first wings hardened and concealing flight wings. More ...

Lepturobosca chrysocoma

Golden Flower Longhorn

Elongate elyra and pronotum clothed in golden hairs. Often seen on composite flowers. More ...

soldier beetle

Soldier Beetle

The elytra are soft and colorful. Frequent on flowers eating the pollen. More ...

Flower Buprestid, Acmaeodera

Flower Buprestid

Glossy and brightly colored beetles sit on flowers. Many kinds with yellow, red or green markings on black. More ...

Flower Buprestid, Acmaeodera

Flower Buprestid #2

Glossy beetle marked with mustard yellow and black. Sits on flowers. Many kinds with yellow, red or green markings on black. More ...

Epicauta segmenta

Black Blister Beetle

All satin black except for a white band on thorax. Clumsy moving and with soft wing covers. More ...

Click Beetle

Click Beetle

Elongated beetles with usu. tapered posterior and sharp corners to pronotum. "Clicks" to right self when positioned on back. More ...

scorpion, Paravaejovis spinigerus

Stripe-tailed Scorpion

Rather heavily built. Stripes on underside of tail. Hides under rocks or dry dung. More ...

Small Brown Scorpion

Hides under rocks by day. A uv light is easiest way to find at night. More ...

Spotted Orb Weaver

Spotted Orb Weaver

Large spider sits at center of orb by night, but ensconsed by daylight. More ...

Long-jawed Spider

Long-Jawed Spider

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Orb webs are spun just over the water usually with the plane parallel to ground. Long slender body. Chelicerae long. More ...

Ground Crab Spider

Ground Crab Spider

Well camouflaged spiders that hunt without a web by sitting close to where prey might come. Tend to crawl sideways. More ...

Funnel Wolf Spider

Funnel Wolf Spider

Unlike most wolf spiders this one uses a web to catch prey. But like wolf spiders this species cares for her young. More ...

leaf gall caused by mites, Eriophyidae

Walnut-Leaf Gall-Mite

Inside the red blister are many minute mites which direct the plant's growth. More ...

Celtis leaf gall caused by mites, Eriophyidae

Finger-Gall Mite

Inside these elongated galls on the underside of hackberry leaves are minute mites which direct the plant's growth. More ...

Pill Woodlouse

Common Pill-Bug

Also occurs in upland Sonoran Desert Not a bug or insect at all! These are crustaceans, kin to shrimp and crabs. Curls into tight ball. Lives among damp leaves and under logs. More ...


Arizona Naturalist
Sycamore Canyons


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Copyright Michael J. Plagens, 1999-2016